It's not entirely clear why a remarkable new wave of singer-songwriters has begun to emerge in the Bay Area recently, but we certainly aren't complaining. Other genres may fall more in and out of vogue, but a wide array of local songwriting talents influenced by folk, rock, blues, pop, and psych are performing regularly in places like Viracocha, Doc's Lab, and The Chapel, and banding together for showcases like the Fog City Songwriters series of quarterly events.
While veteran performers like Lia Rose and The Sam Chase regularly headline shows around the Bay Area, buzzed-about artists like Fantastic Negrito are beginning to join them. Xavier Dphrepaulezz's blues-influenced project won NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Contest, and he'll be performing at Outside Lands this summer. Also on the radar: SF's Andrew St. James, who, despite being only 19, released his second album, The Shakes, to much acclaim late last year.
The term "singer-songwriter" often triggers mental images of a lone troubadour with an acoustic guitar, and, to be sure, a handful of the songs included here fit that mold. Travis Hayes often performs with a full band, but late last year's Young Daze [Acoustic] offered a compelling, restrained take on songs from his 2014 LP. Similarly, Kevin Patrick fronts the rollicking trio Rin Tin Tiger, but his solo work as Field Medic is quiet, sparse and weighty.
But this mix also showcases Bay Area musicians exploring sonic terrain beyond the stripped-down acoustic landscape. Jordannah Elizabeth’s latest, A Rush, mixes psych, soul, and other influences in a way that's unique and unpredictable. Speaking of unpredictable, Kendra McKinley’s album Chestnut Street was very stripped-down, so the deliriously kaleidoscopic “Do What You Want” suggests a new and exciting direction on her next LP.
This mixtape collects 14 songs by singer-songwriters from the San Francisco Bay Area, including all of the artists discussed above and many more. Enjoy the mix!
About the bands:
The Sam Chase - “Ode to San Francisco”
Andrew St. James - “Falling Up”
Rosie Cima - “The Pablo Song”
Fantastic Negrito - “An Honest Man”
Field Medic - “Fuck You Grim Reaper”
Lia Rose - “In Your Place”
Jordannah Elizabeth - “A Prayer for Black America”
Travis Hayes - “Young Daze [Acoustic]”
Rachel Angel - “What I Want”
Debbie Neigher - “Smile”
DonCat - “Where Wind Blows”
Kendra McKinley - “Do What You Want”
Rivvrs - “I Will Follow You”
Karmen Buttler - “Daze of Love”